Category: 1851 : THE £100 cup

The start

The start does not seem to have inspired many painters, perhaps because the schooner America was not shown to advantage, so here is a picture of the the castle of and the Cowes start line traditional of all the races of the Royal yacht Squadron.


The map of paintings (see Google map)

The Finish Line The Start Osborne House
The Finish Line
The Nab Light The Nab Light
Another Salute
Off the Needles
Sandown Bay
No Second
Click on a picture to see the corresponding canvas

1. Le départ

At 10 o'clock the signal gun for sailing was fired, and before the smoke had well cleared away the whole of the beautiful fleet was under way, moving steadily to the east with the tide and a gentle breeze. The start was effected splendidly, the yachts breaking away like a field of race-horses ; the only laggard was the America, which did not move for a second or so after the others.

The Gipsy Queen, with all her canvas set, and in the strength of the tide, took the lead after starting, with the Beatrice next, and then, with little difference in order, the Volante, Constance, Arrow, and a flock of others.

2. After some miles

A close race. "Aurora", "Beatrice" and "America" pass Osborne House

A.D. Blake

The racing yachts present a wonderful sight as they pass Osborne House, Queen Victoria's residence on the Isle of Wight. The Queen's Royal yacht, "Victoria and Albert I" is just leaving her mooring, close beneath Osborne House. A small open boat, with tan sails, is being overtaken by the fleet. To windward of "America" is the 47 ton cutter "Aurora" (second yacht to finish after "America") and the 161 ton schooner "Beatrice". Just astern of "America" is the small white cutter, "Wildfire", (an unofficial starter because she carried moveable sand bags of ballast- but actually finished the race ahead of "America") the large 218 ton schooner "Constance" and the 60 ton cutter "Freak". The 48 ton cutter "Volante" and the 160 ton schooner "Gypsy Queen" are leading the race, just ahead of this fleet.

3. Rounding the Nab Light

America, Arrow, Freak & Alarm

Tim Thompson

At the Nab Light, America took the lead and the British yachts never recovered, America is in the distance on the right hand side.

The painting shows the cutters Alarm and Arrow passing the Nab lightship and the schooner Freak farther to the right. Can be seen on the left the schooner America, which did not circumvent the lightship and thus took the lead in the race.

4. Two canvas of the same scene from a different angle

America beats the English Fleet


America' sails past the Nab light vessel

5. Au large de Sandown Bay

Three Cheers for America

Tim Thompson

In Sandown Bay, America, well ahead of the fleet receives three cheers from her fellow countrymen watching the race from their vessel.


6. Off the Needles


Before the Needles

7. After the Needles

John Mecray

7. America salutes the Royal Family (ci-contre)
Tim Thompson

The painting shows the Yacht America saluting the Royal Yacht Victoria & Albert on nearing the Needles during the 1851 America Cup. The Queen and her family were most gratified by this, although they were dissappointed that there was no British yacht near enough to put up any contest, the Queen was most pleased the Americans lowered their flag and waved their caps at her

8. Another salute to the Royal Family, near the finish line

9. The finish

A Great Victory."America" finishes first off the Castle, Cowes, Isle of Wight, August 22nd, 1851

A.D. Blake

At 8.37 pm the celebrated schooner "America" crosses the finish line to the sound of cannon fire from the Castle to win The Hundred Pound Cup, which later became known as The America's Cup.
The tide has turned against "America" as shown by the tide ripples around the finish mark/barrel. The small white cutter, "Wildfire"( unusual for the time as most were black), on the right hand side, taking down its mainsail, is also 'tide bound', although there is wind in the mainsail, She was an unofficial starter in the race( not allowed because of moveable ballast) and actually finished ahead of "America".
"America" has booms holding out both jib and foresail and a preventer rope holding her main boom out. Her extreme aft mast rake would otherwise cause all sails to fall into the centre line during the light running conditions. Conditions are cloudy, but a shaft of sunlight, from the setting sun, lights up the America and some of the shoreline.
A huge spectator fleet accompanied the racing yachts around the Isle of Wight and some can be seen surrounding "America". A paddle steamer, on the left hand side of the painting, is reversing to allow "America" sufficient room to pass. The foreshore, surrounding the Castle, is also crowded with spectators, who have come to see the finish and also enjoy the fireworks scheduled for 9pm.

Two other paintings of arrival less realistic but very similar ...
The America: "America's Cup" Yacht
O.W. Brierley


The Yacht 'America' Winning the International Race

Fitz Hugh Lane
and finally two magnificent paintings by Tim Thompson